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Old September 29th, 2004, 06:48 PM   #1
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3D still image layering on network shows

I have two questions. Has anyone else noticed what alot of network shows are doing with image panning lately? Specifically they are still zooming and panning still images as always but they are also beginning to isolate different people or objects within the image and layering them, maintaining their original position, so that they can be manipulated seperately. It is a really cool effect because it will allow you to soften the background and create DOF as well as zoom and/or pan any component or the entire image making the forground subject(s) move independently from each other creating a 3D type of effect. A simulated dolly shot could be could be achieved by simply creating a left or right move of the background element while the forground elements stay the same or do the opposite. You could also actually perform a rack focus on each individual cutout element because they would be their own track in a timeline or layer in a .psd file.

The other question is this. Since this is showing up on many different networks, do you think alot of them use the same post facilities or are they just copying each other? This effect is becoming widely used when image panning is involved in a program.

It seems that I saw this heavily used first on VH1 this past summer.
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Old September 29th, 2004, 08:11 PM   #2
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This technique was used wonderfully (and for the first time, I believe) in "The Kid Stays in the Picture," the movie about Robert Evans. If you haven't seen it, rent it immediately; the look is fantastic. I've noticed the look cropping up more recently, as well -- as you note, particularly on VH1. It's the new "Ken Burns effect."

I don't know if they are all using the same post facility or not, but it's relatively easy enough that anyone could be doing it. I've used this effect (albeit in a quickie, not-as-complex manner) in a few of my commercials -- if you go the the Video section of my site, the "Jomo/Lucinda Williams" ad and the "Georgia Theatre" ad use a simple version of the technique (it's a little too subtle in the Georgia Theatre ad, but it's used in the animation at the beginning and end of the ad). Each of those ads was started and finished in one evening, so I imagine that an "average" full-time professional could easily knock out "VH1" quality animations with no trouble. Like I say, if I can do it, anyone can...
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Old September 29th, 2004, 08:16 PM   #3
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I highly doubt they are all done at the same post house...probably just copying who did it first (you know how trends are....;)
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Old September 29th, 2004, 11:36 PM   #4
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Uh, John, that's some great looking work! How in the world did you get that deli chain to pay for a locally produced spot. I figured that they would use a pre-produced spot and just have you tag it. That's usually what I've experienced.

So, is that effect I am talking about done by cutting out images of a picture with photoshop and then moving the individual layers? How did you achieve the effect?
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Old September 30th, 2004, 09:59 AM   #5
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James

Thanks for the positive words; I'm glad you liked the spots.

The local Schlotz has been locally-owned for years and was always Athens-centric -- for example, their previous location (just 100 yards from the new one) was decorated with old Athens newspaper clippings and whatnot. The owners wanted a spot that showcased the new building/new style and paid for it themselves. The voiceover was even done by one of the owners. I don't know if this sort of thing is typical of their franchises, or if the Athens one is just a particularly independent location.

As for the "Kid Stays In the Picture" effect, yeah, it's just a combo of Photoshop and After Effects. I would take a still photo, trace around the foreground figure with the Pen Tool, create a Selection from it, then "Layer via Cut." Then go back and clone the background to fill the empty space in the bottom layer. Then import the layers into After Effects (in my case, AE 5.5 Standard)

Once in After Effects, you have a few options on how to play with the layers. The "pro" way is to put the layers in 3D space w/ some lights to create real depth and shadow, and create a camera layer to move around in it. That's what I tried with the "Georgia Theater" (Randall Bramblett) spot, but the effect was so subtle that it wasn't worth the extended rendering times. So I usually end up going the easy route, which is just importing the layers into After Effects in 2D space and simply moving the layers and faking depth by blurring and/or scaling the background. That's what I did with the "Lucinda Williams" ad. But the "pro" way is the best way to simulate a more fluid, "real" environment and allows you to play with depth and whatnot.

It's really pretty easy to do, and I expect to see even more of it on TV, as a new "Ken Burns effect." The plus side is that since it actually takes a little bit of effort to create, it will probably never become a one-click effect the way panning a still has become -- so it actually has a chance of not being too overused, as well as not ending up being used in Uncle Mort's family vacation videos...
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Old September 30th, 2004, 10:20 AM   #6
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I've seen this effect used a lot in the intros to television/short films. If any of you have seen "American Casino" on the Discovery channel you might know what I mean. During the opening to that show they have video of each of the personnel that work at the casino. They take a freeze frame of video, isolate the person in the shot, and then move them out and away from the background.

I think I may have seen it in a guy ritchie film too, but I'm not sure, I might be confusing it with something else.

I think it looks pretty cool, and I've considered using it on my next short project during the credit roll at the end.
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Old September 30th, 2004, 04:49 PM   #7
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Do you use Premeire's motion for side to side and zoom or is that within Photoshop and AE?
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Old September 30th, 2004, 05:06 PM   #8
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If I'm animating layers, then it's done in After Effects even if I'm working in 2D space. If I'm just "Ken Burns"-ing/panning across a normal still (no layers), then I'll typically use Premiere (either Image Pan or Motion). For example, in the "Lucinda Williams" ad, the first shot was done in After Effects, the second in Premiere (using Motion tool), and the third shot in After Effects.
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